Archive for October, 2013


Last week an MRI showed that Monika’s kidney cancer had metastasized into her brain.  Few people in this condition apparently survive more than six months. Monika quickly made the decision to abandon the cancer treatment which has made her feel cold and sick most of the time and to enter a hospice program.  She retains a commitment, however, to trying to beat the usual odds.

As in earlier stages of this “journey,” the outpouring of support from family and friends has been deeply moving.  Monika’s youngest son Dave came down within days, and built the ramp shown above from the garage into the laundry/mudroom, so that Monika would not have to negotiate the steps there.   Next week our sons and their families (and three dogs) will converge to celebrate Monika’s birthday.

The amazing thing is that just four days after getting the diagnosis of brain cancer, Monika feels better than ever.  Having quit her cancer medication, she feels hugely better physically.  She is amazingly calm and accepting about this terrible turn of events; her bravery and spirit are truly impressive (I’m afraid I’m not quite as brave or calm about this as she).  She feels totally comfortable in her decision to go into hospice.  She is radiant.  In addition to all the support from family, she has been deeply moved by the way the local community is mobilizing to provide both of us with support of all sorts.  She has touched many hearts and now those are touching hers.  So strange as it may seem, and as bittersweet as it is, she appears to be feeling better and happier and more at peace than ever.

This morning, Monika hosted her weekly Grace prayer shawl knitting group at our home.  In the afternoon we enjoyed the fall foliage along the Rockfish River.  We remain committed to trying to live each day to the fullest, and to treasure the time we have together.


Monika and I decided to seize the moment and take a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, which neither of us had ever been to.  The weather in this first week of October proved to be perfect: sunny, warm and clear.  We spent two nights in Kill Devil Hills (so named for the rum that washed up from shipwrecks in the old days–said to be so awful it would kill the devil), and two nights at Cape Hatteras, with side trips to Roanoke Island (by bridge) and Ocracoke Island (by ferry).  Each day started with a perfect sunrise from our respective ocean front rooms, and I apologize for an excess of sunrise pictures in the album below, even after my draconian editing.  Those sunrises were breathtaking! In addition to a variety of sea birds, Monika spotted from our balcony a fox in the dunes, and with the help of binoculars even located its foxhole.  Neat!

The only downside of the trip was the closure of many national seashore sites due to the Tea Party/Republican-engineered government shutdown, which included most lighthouses.  And evidence of a related sort of shortsightedness was evident at our Cape Hatteras Motel, which showed major hurricane damage to structures built right on the beach.

click here for trip photo album